Dr Ramsey Affifi

Lecturer in Philosophical and Ecological Education


Ramsey Affifi is co-ordinator of the Sustainability in Education Research Group (SIERG), and on the leadership team of the Teacher Education, Curriculum and Pedagogy Research Hub (TECP). He teaches in PGDE Secondary Science, Philosophy of Education, and Outdoor Environmental Education.

Ramsey Affifi completed a PhD in 2015 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, and went on to be a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Simon Fraser University's Faculty of Education. He is also the founder of the Sai Nyai Eco School and the nonprofit organization, Sustainable Laos Education Initiatives.

Ramsey is eager to consider PhD applications in the following general areas:

  • Ecologising education (see some of his articles for a sense of what this means).
  • Bringing philosophy into biology and environmental education theory and practice.
  • Developing evo-devo approaches to evolution and genetics education.
  • Interdisciplinary approaches that bridge art and science in education and education research.
  • The emotional and existential dimensions of the ecological crisis.
  • Contemplative approaches to education and education research.

Please contact him if you study, or are interested in studying, any of these topics. 

For more information on Ramsey Affifi's research, writing, and teaching, please visit his webpage: http://ramseyaffifi.org. The website contains his blog, called Ecologising Education, where he explores and tries out different ideas at the intersection of education, philosophy and ecology.

Ramsey Affifi has received over 20 EUSA Awards nominations since starting at University of Edinburgh (Best Dissertation Supervisor, Best Overall Teacher, Best Practice in Inclusive Teaching and Learning).


Postgraduate teaching

Primary Course

PGDE Secondary, Biology Curriculum and Pedagogy

PGDE Secondary, General Science

Previous Courses

  • Ecosystems for Educators
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Educating for Environmental Citizenship
  • Philosophy of Education
  • Sources of Knowledge
  • Research Methods

Previous Secondary Contributor

  • Concept-Based Practice and Outdoor Learning

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I am particularly interested in working with students interested in the following areas (please see my publications to get a better sense of some of the stuff I have recently worked on):

  • Systems thinking (in particular the work of Gregory Bateson) and ecological literacy, applied to biology curriculum and pedagogy.
  • Bringing philosophy into biology and environmental education theory and practice.
  • Developing evo-devo approaches to evolution and genetics education.
  • Interdisciplinary approaches that bridge art and science in education and education research.
  • Critical STEM/STEAM education that serves people and the planet.
  • The emotional and existential dimensions of the ecological crisis.

Past PhD students supervised

Dr. David A.G. Clarke

Research summary

  • Science education
  • Pedagogical approaches to environmental philosophy, philosophy of biology (especially evolution and development), and philosophy of technology (especially biotechnologies)
  • Theory and practice of place-emergent curricula
  • Teaching biology outdoors
  • Collaborative/ecological approaches to participatory research
  • Autobiographical and arts based research methods
  • Environmental and sustainability education



For more information, visit my PURE feed: https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/en/persons/ramsey-affifi

Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications

  • Affifi, R. (2023). Aesthetic knowing and ecology: Cultivating perception and participation during the ecological crisis. Environmental Education Research. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2023.2286933
  • Affifi, R. (2022). Ecologising education beyond angels and villains. Environmental Education Research.  DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2022.2108768
  • Affifi, R. (2020). The adaptive subject: Learning evolution beyond the cell walls. Biological Theory. DOI: 10.1007/s13752-020-00343-w
  • Affifi, R. (2020). Beauty in the darkness: Aesthetic education in the ecological crisis. Journal of Philosophy of Education. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9752.12475
  • Affifi. R. (2020). Anthropocentrism’s fluid binary. Environmental Education Research. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2019.1707484
  • Affifi, R. (2019). Restoring realism: Themes and variations. Environmental Education Research. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2019.1699026
  • Affifi, R. & Christie, B. (2018). Facing loss: Pedagogy of death. Environmental Education Research. Doi: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1446511
  • Affifi, R. (2017). Genetic engineering and human mental ecology: Interlocking effects and educational considerations. Biosemiotics 10(1), 75-98.
  • Affifi, R. (2017). The metabolic core of environmental education. Studies in Philosophy and Education 36(3).
  • Affifi, R., Blenkinsop, S., Humphreys, C. & Joldersma, C. (2017). Introduction to ecologizing philosophy of education. Studies in Philosophy of Education 36(3), 229-241
  • Blenkinsop, Affifi, R, Piersol, and Sitka-Sage, Michael. (2017). Shut-up and listen: Implications and possibilities of Albert Memmi's characteristics of colonization for the "Natural World." Studies in Philosophy and Education 36(3), 249-365.
  • Affifi, R. (2016 ). More-than-humanizing the Anthropocene. The Trumpeter 32(2).
  • Affifi, R. (2016). The semiosis of "side effects" in genetic interventions. Biosemiotics 9(3), 345-364. [invited for special issue on Multilevel semiosis] 
  • Affifi, R. (2015). Generativity in biology. Phenomenology and Cognitive Science 14(1), 149-162
  • Affifi, R. (2014). The interspecies educator's cybernetic world. Kybernetes 42(9/10), 1304-1312.
  • Affifi, R. (2014). Deweyan education and democratic ecologies. Educational Studies 50(6), 573-597.
  • Affifi, R. (2014). Drawing analogies in environmental education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education 19, 80-93.
  • Affifi, R. (2013). Biological pedagogy as concern for semiotic growth. Biosemiotics 7(1), 73-88.
  • Affifi, R. (2012). Learning plants: Between the parts and the whole. Biosemiotics 6(3), 547-559.
  • Affifi, R. (2011). What Weston's spider and my shorebirds might mean for Bateson's Mind: Wandering in Interspecies Curricula. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education 16, 46-58.

Book Chapters and Contributions

  • Affifi, R. (2024). Anthropocentrism's fluid binary. In "New Materialisms and Environmental Education" (Eds David A.G. Clarke & Jamie McPhie). Routledge UK.
  • Affifi, R. (2020). Between will and wildness in STEAM education. In "Why science and art creativities matter: STEAM (re)configurings for future-making education" (Eds. Pamela Burnard & Laura Colucci-Gray). Brill / Sense.
  • Affifi, R. (2020). Plant blindness leads to extinction blindness: Lessons from Kok Mai Bak. In “Beyond plant blindness: Seeing the importance of plants for a sustainable world” (Eds. Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson and Sanders). Greenbox.
  • The Crex Crex Collective (2018). Wild Pedagogies. Jickling, B. et al. (Eds.), Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Affifi, R. (2018). Deweyan psychology in plant intelligence research: Transforming stimulus and response. In "Memory and Learning in Plants" (Ed. Monica Gagliano). Springer.

 Conference Papers and Presentations.

  • Affifi, R. (2023). Environmental education is a joke. Invited lecture at the 15th Annual Bergen Educational Conversation, Western Norway University.
  • Affifi, R., Colucci-Gray, L., Gray, D. and Østergaard, E. (2023). Responding to the environmental crisis: Exercises in attentive listening. Performance session at SERA (Scottish Education Research Association), Queen Margaret University.
  • Affifi, R. (2023). Tending the political ecology of love in the midst of loss. Environmental Emotions: Theory, Testimony, Politics Workshop (CRITIQUE-AHRC funded). [invited speaker]
  • Nardo, A., Affifi, R. & Hardman, S. (2023). Love of wisdom: Exploring Improv as method for collaborative philosophical inquiry. European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Glasgow.
  • Colucci-Gray, L., Affifi, R. & Vlighe, J. (2023). Education with/in a world in turmoil: Re-imagining STEAM pedagogy as sense-making, care, and conviviality. Edinburgh STEAM convivium (Edinburgh). [organiser]
  • Affifi, R. (2023). Ecologising biology education concepts and practice. International Society for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology Conference. Toronto.
  • Hensley, N & Affifi, R. (2023). Critical Trickster Pedagogy for the Anthropocene. American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (AAACS). Chicago
  • Affifi, R. (2022). Ecological and existential barriers to interdisciplinary. European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) Conference, Belgrade, Serbia.
  • Affifi, R. (2022). Ecologies of courage. The Arts, Finitude and Education 2022 Symposium, University of Edinburgh.
  • Willis, A. & Affifi, R. (2022). Shifting the narrative. Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Edinburgh, UK.
  • Affifi, R. & Bertoldo, J. (2022). A description of aesthetic knowing's role in ecologies of courage, followed by some educational considerations. International Sustainable Development Research Society (ISDR) 2022 Conference, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Affifi, R. & Bertoldo, J. (2022). Beauty in the darkness. 2022 Geopoetics symposium, Hollyhock, British Colombia, (SSHRC and SFU co-sponsored conference). 
  • Affifi, R. (2021). Anthropocentrism’s fluid binary and implications for outdoor studies research. Invited talk at Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (Dec 7, 2021).
  • Affifi, R. (2021). Facing plants: Pedagogies of love, loss and renewal. Botanic Gardens Education Network (BGEN) Annual Conference.
  • Affifi, R. (2021). Tree phenomes and the phenomenology of extinction. Philosophy of plant biology workshop, University of Exeter.
  • Affifi, R. (2021). Beauty in the darkness: Aesthetic education in the ecological crisis. Philosophy of Education Society Great Britain [invited talk].
  • Affifi, R. (upcoming). Pedagogy of death. 8th International Outdoor Education Research Conference, Sunshine Coast, Australia.
  • Affifi, R. (2018). "Action research" action research. American Education Research Assocation annual Conference 2018. New York.
  • Affifi, R. (2017). The wild, wide world between anthropocentrism and new materialism. American Education Research Association annual conference 2017, San Antonio, Texas.
  • Affifi, R., (organizer), Blenkinsop, S., Humphreys, C., Laird, S., & Thayer-Bacon, B. (2017). Introduction to Ecologizing Philosophy of Education. Philosophy of Education Society Annual Meeting, Seattle, USA.
  • Affifi, R, Blenkinsop, S., Humphreys, C, Joldersma, C., Laird, S. & Thayer-Bacon, B. (2016) Ecologizing Philosophy of Education. Philosophy of Education Society Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada.
  • Affifi, R. (2016). Toward an ecologically coherent sense of "more-than-human." American Educational Research Association annual conference 2016, Washington D.C.
  • Affifi, R. (2016). Considerations for a biosemiotic pedagogy for urban design. Reinventing the Urban: Workshop on Habitecture for Wildlife, University of Toronto, Department of Geography and Planning.
  • Affifi, R. (2015). Public understanding of biotechnology in the Age of Evo-Devo. International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology annual conference 2015, Montreal, Canada.
  • Affifi, R. (2015). Genetic engineering and human mental ecology. Fourth Annual EcoJustice and Activism Conference, 2015, Eastern Michigan University, MI.
  • Affifi, R. (2014). Genetics in environmental education: Three challenges. American Educational Studies Association annual conference 2014, Toronto, Canada.
  • Affifi, R. (2014). Addiction and agency during the ecological crisis. American Educational Studies Association annual conference 2014, Toronto, Canada.
  • Affifi, R. (2014). Deweyan education and ecological democracies. Third Annual EcoJustice and Activism Conference, 2014, Eastern Michigan University, MI.
  • Affifi, R. (2013). Totem and Analogy in environmental education. Simon Fraser University's Loon Lake Gathering.
  • Affifi, R. (2013). Plant learning: Possible category changes and experimental considerations in testing for them. International Symposium on Plant Signalling and Behavior 2013, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
  • Affifi, R. (2012). Not pedagogy but "biogogy": On linking biosemiotic and education research. Gatherings in Biosemiotics 12, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
  • Affifi, R. (2012). Educational ecology: Recursion and responsibility in interspecies interaction. An Ecology of Ideas: 2012 Join Conference of the American Society for Cybernetics and the Bateson Idea Group, Asilomar, California.
  • Affifi, R. (2012). Ecologizing education / educationalizing ecology. Dean's Graduate Student Research Conference 2012, OISE, Toronto, Ontario.
  • Affifi, R. & Phommixay, S. (2011). Educational Leadership at the Say Nyai Eco-school. Proceedings of the 6th World Environmental Education Congress, Brisbane, Australia.
  • Affifi, R. (2011). Ecology is Educational and Education is Ecological: Some Curricular Implications. Proceedings of the 6th World Environmental Education Congress, Brisbane, Australia.


  • Affifi, R. (2018). A review of "The educational significance of human and non-human animal interactions," by S. Rice & A.G. Rud (2016). Educational Theory, vol  68, no. 2.


  • Affifi, R. (2015). Educating in a multispecies world. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Toronto.
  • Affifi, R. (2008). "Thesis writing" as a prelude to living environmental education. Master's Thesis, Royal Roads University.